And then the nightmares came. If Alistair's goal was to scare me into insanity, he certainly had an easy job of it once he had me in that box. He didn't have to do anything- even the blood I was still coughing up didn't matter- I made my own nightmares, and for me, nothing could be worse than that. I had always had to deal with them- for as long as I could remember, I saw monsters everywhere. In the trees, the bushes, in houses, in rocks, even in people, and especially in the shadows. Especially in the dark.
It scared me to death when I was learning how to walk, it scared me to death when I was learning how to run, and when I was an assassin and had killed monsters of every sort the ones that I dreamed up still scared me to death. And the very worst part wasn't even the fear- it was the fact that I knew they weren't real, and it didn't matter. I was utterly petrified of them, and the fact that they weren't real didn't make them look or feel any less real.
When I was attacked by something solid, I could fight back. But when it was just my imagination,there was nothing for me to do- I just sat, frozen and terrified, my eyes wide open because if I closed them it was only a thousand times worse. Except surrounded by darkness, a thousand times worse became the norm. Alastair didn't have to do a single thing- even his initial whisperings hadn't really been necessary. He could just leave me there and I'd eventually freak myself into insanity. But apparently he had other plans. After all, he did promise to tear me apart, tiny bit by tiny bit.
"Somebody let me out!" I shrieked as I pounded against the wall. My cries got weaker every time- no one ever listened, and I was starting to think no one ever would. My screams, on the other hand, only got louder, and more often than not they were mixed with sobs. I got used to no one answering. I got used to seeing the monsters. I got used to screaming and to coughing up blood. I got used to strange noises, whispers, and growls. I got used to hearing claws scrape the floor.
I wasn't used to the sharp teeth that sank into my leg. I threw my head back and released some strange mix between a gasp and a scream, and then two pairs of claws joined in and the teeth raked down, tearing off long, thick strips of flesh. There was too much pain for me to tell how deep.
"Alistair," I gasped, "What-" I was interrupted by another bought of bloody coughs, "Do you... Want... With me?"
More growling came from one side of me, and before I even realized what was going on, another dog sank its teeth into my neck and tore a chunk of flesh away. I let out another inhuman groan and wondered how I was even alive anymore.
A set of long, ragged fingernails dug into my side and started digging, deeper, and deeper, and deeper. So fear wasn't enough after all. Now is the start of the pain. The clawing continued. Something blunt dashed itself against one of my hands, pinning it to the metal floor just as whatever had its mouth on my leg started pulling. I started off gasping, then moaning, then finally screaming again, just when I thought I didn't have it in me.
"I told you," he whispered in my ear for the first time since I first woke up in the dark, "You are never, ever, leaving this box." My head lolled backwards and my mind went numb. Finally- a release.